Current commercial processes for ethanol use sugar cane or Corn kernel which is a kind of starchy biomass. There are two major problems with these popular processes: One is that it competes with food crops which has led to controversial Food versus Fuel debate. Secondly, the cost of production is not competitive vis-a- vis gasoline. These are the reasons for shifting of attention to Cellulosic ethanol.
Challenges with Cellulose processing:
Breaking down plant biomass(cellulosic) is no easy task. Nature has taken millions of years to evolve to make them hard and recalcitrant. This means they have tremendous resistance to natural forces like attacks from bacteria, fungi, insects, extreme weather etc. Therefore breaking cellulose to fermentable sugars is the primary challenge for the researchers in this area. In any bio process to make ethanol, one has to make easily fermentable sugars as the critical step. Cellulosic biomass also contains sugars but…
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